Exercise is good for us, but do you know just how good it is for you? Exercise helps us maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Exercising regularly strengthens our bones and muscles and keeps your mental health, mood, and cognition sharp.

The benefits of exercising will keep you looking and feeling younger, and a new study revealed that exercise can inhibit aging at a cellular level. A small study about Cell Metabolism found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise makes cells produce more proteins for mitochondria and ribosomes. As we age, our cells become vulnerable to the negative effects of free radicals and diseases. 

The study enrolled 36 men and 36 women from 2 different age groups. Half were the “young” volunteers aged between 18-30 years old and the remaining half were the “older” volunteers aged between 65-80 years old. The 2 groups participated in 3 different sets of exercise programs which are high-intensity interval biking, weighted strength training, or a combination of interval and strength training.

The researchers took biopsy samples from the thigh muscles of the participants and compared the molecular makeup of their muscle cells. They also assessed the amount of lean muscle mass and the insulin sensitivity of the volunteers. The HIIT from the exercise program yield provided the greatest benefits at a cellular level and increased mitochondrial capacity while improving insulin sensitivity.

In the “young” volunteers, there was an increase of 49% in mitochondrial capacity while the “older” volunteers saw 69% in their mitochondrial capacity. The report also shows improved insulin sensitivity markers which indicate less chances in potentially developing diabetes in the future.

One of the impressive findings of the study was how high-intensive biking was very effective in the increase in muscle protein content. It seemed to reverse the age-related issues in the volunteer’s mitochondrial function and proteins. The ribosomes were rejuvenated and a strong increase in mitochondrial protein synthesis was observed

The next stage of the research is understanding how exercise can make aging more targetable and gives in-depth benefits on body tissues and ways clinicians may be able to target the individual pathways.

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